In a box-office battle that pitted young versus old, female against male, modest drama versus big-budget spectacle, the teenage romance “The Fault in Our Stars” easily bested the time-shifting Tom Cruise action film “Edge of Tomorrow.”
With a $48.2 million domestic debut, “The Fault in Our Stars” thumped the $29.1 million opening for “Edge of Tomorrow,” according to studio estimates Sunday. It did so with a far less seasoned star in Shailene Woodley and a $12 million budget a fraction of the size of that for “Edge of Tomorrow,” made for approximately $175 million.
The results offered a stark illustration of shifting box-office trends. Whereas big-budget, male-oriented action films with stars like Cruise have long ruled the day at North American multiplexes, those movies are increasingly under siege from films ignited by passionate young female moviegoers.
“The notion of what is traditional summer fare is changing,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior analyst for box-office tracker Rentrak. “Women and young girls are as vitally important to the box office in the summer as the young males, who Hollywood has courted and coveted for decades.”
“The Fault in Our Stars,” a highly-anticipated adaptation of John Green’s best-selling book, was in some ways another example of the power of young-adult fiction. But unlike “Twilight” or “The Hunger Games,” “The Fault in Our Stars” isn’t about science-fiction or fantasy, but is rather a more naturalistic drama about young love and cancer.
Twentieth Century Fox said that an overwhelming 82 percent of the audience for the film was female, an unusually large gender gap for such a popular movie. The majority of the audience eagerly turned out for Thursday night and Friday showings.
“We knew that we had an engaged fan base but we weren’t sure of the depth of it,” said Chris Aronson, Fox’s distribution head. “We also knew we had formidable competition in the marketplace for similar if not identical demographics.”
That competition – Disney’s fairy tale “Maleficent,” starring Angelina Jolie - slid to second place in its second week with $33.5 million. With a two-week global sum of $335.5 million, “Maleficent” has performed well, but it remains to be seen if it can be a real money-maker for Disney, which spent an estimated $180 million to make it, plus huge amounts to market it.
Warner Bros. science-fiction thriller “Edge of Tomorrow,” directed by Doug Liman and co-starring Emily Blunt, appealed more to males (61 percent of its audience) and moviegoers older than 25 (73 percent of its audience). The film about a U.S. major (Cruise) stuck in a “Groundhog Day” -like time loop during a battle against invading aliens won Cruise some of his best reviews in years, but - like the star's recent “Oblivion” and “Jack Reacher” - it didn’t turn out moviegoers as expected.
“They’re just two very different movies and the fact they’re both on the same weekend, it's not one versus the other,” said Jeff Goldstein, head of domestic distribution for Warner Bros., said referring to “The Fault in Our Stars.” “But there is something really special about a movie like ‘Fault,’ where an audience really rallied around it.”
“For us, this is really about the long play,” added Goldstein.
“Edge of Tomorrow” also showed that such films still have a lot of box-office muscle, it’s only best flexed overseas. The film made $82 million internationally, making most of that in China, Korea and Russia.
Sony’s comedy sequel “22 Jump Street,” starring Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill, kicked off abroad a week ahead of its North American release, earning $8.8 million. Next weekend, it will open alongside DreamWorks’ “How to Train Your Dragon 2.”
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